"Jim had an amazing ability to discuss seemingly unrelated concepts and then somehow weave them together with a thread of consciousness, a reminder that at some level nothing is truly separate from anything else."
- Larry Schor
"I believe that everyone who comes into contact with this man knows that he is an intellectual powerhouse. But I've also learned how much compassion, empathy, and love this great big guy could offer me. I made a particularly tough personal journey in one of Jim's classes and, when no one else could meet me eye to eye, there was Jim. He looked at me with eyes that I experienced as warm, spirit-filled, and compassionate. He said, 'Anytime you want to talk about it I'll be there' (thank you Jim)."
- Bill Liggin
About Jim Klee
Jim Klee earned his B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. degrees in Psychology at the University of Michigan. He liked to remind his students that his animal studies done there with N. R. F. Mailer were different from those common to that period because "our rats could think." In the 1940s, Jim's experiments presaged an age of cognitive psychology, which would come into its own twenty years later. Jim's own thinking, like his 6'6" frame, has always been far too big to fit into the common categories. The thinking of the field has consistently followed from his intuitive excursions into the distant glimmerings of psychological reality.
Much of his academic career was spent at Brandeis University and at the State University of West Georgia. At Brandeis he joined Abraham Maslow in establishing the first humanistic psychology program in the nation. There he also became colleagues with and influenced George Kelly and Ulric Neisser, two founders of the cognitive psychology movement. Yet cognition was far too narrow and rigidly cast a vision for Klee himself. His great-plains-sized thinking simultaneously grounded humanistic psychology in existential-phenomenology while also stretching it to its own "outer reaches" in transpersonal psychology in its historical-temporal religious dimension.
Jim typically explored the territory between categories. He navigated his sailship of vision along the boundaries of words, concepts, and spheres of inquiry, between existing thoughts and disciplines, in a quest for openings of potential insight. In the interstices - in the "in-between" - he found a consciousness-expanding nexus of dimensionality and unity that reveals points of continuity among seemingly unrelated understandings offered by such persons as Sartre, Spence, Bergson, Skinner, Aristotle, Plato, Lao Tzu, and the Hindu mystics. For Jim, the continuity was recognized in the discontinuity, the paradoxical, the ironic, the symbolic.
In 1971, Jim joined the faculty of the newly-forming Humanistic Psychology program at the State University of West Georgia. Owing greatly to his largesse d'esprit, the program burgeoned to its current prominence as a principal center for studies and research in Humanistic and Transpersonal Psychology. Jim was named Professor of Psychology Emeritus upon his retirement in 1987. He died in 1996. For more about Jim, please see the following writing by Mike Aarons.
The following are transcriptions of some of Jim's essays and lectures, supplied by Don Medeiros.
A few (*) appeared in his compilation Points of Departure: Aspects of the Tao (And Books, 1982) - but the majority are either unpublished or out-of-print. They not only reveal the insight of this extraordinary man, but also cover a good deal of relevant topics and concerns that are still discussed in our classes here today.
When the Psychology Dept. moved from Pafford to Melson Hall in Spring 2002, we also came upon a set of open-reel tapes of Jim's lectures from a course in Phenomenology of Will, Choice, and Belief from Spring Semester 1973, which include portions from his essay "The Absolute and the Relative." We are currently in the process of transferring these recordings to CDs, which will become available through the department.